1. In 2007 Ankit Fasteners received the Society of Aerospace Manufacturing Engineers (SAME) National Governing Council Gold Medal award? What factors contributed to Ankit Fasteners winning this prestigious award?
SAME set up to coordinate with all companies in the aerospace industry, is promoted by ISRO and VSSC (Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre). Our relationship with VSSC started way back in 1991 when we started Ankit Fasteners. Ankit Fasteners has played a major role in indigenization which was a major national requirement in mid-nineties especially in the context of nuclear blasts and a lot of sanctions that were required. Overtime ISRO has become completely self-reliant in fasteners which even though are small value items, have always faced critical bottlenecks.
The efforts put in by the entire Ankit Group during the last 15 years have been remarkable. I think the following factors helped us win this award.
- We are pioneers in the country for aluminium rivet manufacturing.
- We use Russian alloy. Russian markets are difficult to penetrate on account of language disparity etc.
- We make Alloy steel fasteners for which we import material from France.
- We have been competitive as far as price is concerned.
- We offer time advantage. Manufacturing lead time that used to be close to 12-18 months way back in mid-nineties when ISRO used to import fasteners has come down to 3 months.
All this was only possible due to the efforts and leadership of my father and the continuous employee support.
2. For organizations typically to achieve good results they need to develop execution excellence across the organization. Considering the growth that Ankit Fasteners has had despite recession, would you say this has been so in your company too?
Yes you are absolutely right! Even if a company has a robust goal setting process at the senior level, what is important is the execution across the company. In our case despite recession few good things helped us going and reach where we are today. We picked up a good industry and have always maintained good choice of products. We have some solid customers like ISRO. We lay strong emphasis on Continuous Improvement Process. Our business strategy has always been to not run behind low margin businesses. Despite taking a cost conscious decision like downsizing, our net sales have gone up by 10%. Financially not being a leveraged company helped us during recession.
3. An important managerial skill is ensuring execution excellence. According to you what is execution excellence?
What I have tried to do here is break down goals into targets / milestones. We have completed a detailed KRA setting exercise this year for all employees. At Ankit we have 20 performance measures like Sales, Customer service, Rejections etc to meet our 3 values namely Customer satisfaction, People focus and Safety. In a month where we meet targets our score becomes 1 and failure to meet makes it. So the ratings help us get a clear picture of where the company is heading. That according to me is an execution excellence wish list that management across companies possesses.
4. What programs and initiatives do you have in place at Ankit for leading, supporting and encouraging effective execution by your team?
Our focus on stringent Continuous Improvement (CI) programs ensures that each employee undertakes CI projects and CI training programs which help them evolve as effective executors. We also have mandatory training programs. Each employee is ideally required to go through 3 hours of monthly training i.e. 36 hours of annual training. By this we ensure that our human assets appreciate in terms of performance quality and flawless execution
5. What are the challenges you foresee for your company in the coming years? What are the key managerial skills that you want your managers to develop given these challenges?
We definitely need human resources to take us ahead in our growth path. Currently we do a lot of external hiring. The challenge here, especially in senior level hiring is the time taken for the new hires to internalize and adjust with the organizational culture. I would prefer building a system where in we can identify and facilitate movement of employees to bigger roles and expanded job responsibilities. Our middle management needs to improve their people management skills – communication of expectations and ability to set goals. We have some good resources at the junior level, but they expect a fast track growth. Their attitude is that of biting more than they can chew. We can probably look at identifying few good resources and training them meticulously to fit into the middle management role.
6. To meet the external and internal challenges of a changing world, managers need to develop their capacity to lead. At Ankit how would you like to build this capacity in your managers?
Firstly we believe that every manager should be held accountable for self and the team. This inculcates responsibility amongst team managers towards the team.
Secondly we encourage functional managers’ inputs and active participation in the recruitment process. If the individuals hired fit into the expected skills set then we can ensure a healthy organization in terms of skill building.We are also planning to organize technical development programs once we reach a certain headcount because we believe that managers need to be abreast of new technological innovations which can then result in knowledge sharing. The lesser you work more work gets done. The key to this is to hire good people who would work for you and help the organization grow.
7. Personally how do you ensure that you continuously develop yourself as a leader and as a manager?
I make it a point to attend the mandatory company training programs because I feel that in order to be a successful leader you must be one amongst the team and always accessible to your team members. I always read up on new technological advancements and new manufacturing processes. When you yourself are well informed and aware of the happenings, you can add value to your team members as well. I attend seminars wherein I can interact with fellow entrepreneurs and take their inputs. We have much older board members. I look at them as my mentors and they help me a lot with their experience. As a leader I also believe in following my instincts.